At the start of this chapter, the term crime was simply defined as a violation of the criminal law. Near the end of this chapter, we recognized the complexity of crime, calling it an "emergent phenomenon." In the process, crime was effectively redefined as a lawbreaking event whose significance arises out of an intricate social nexus involving a rather wide variety of participants. As we move through the early decades of the twenty-first century, contemporary criminologists face the daunting task of reconciling an extensive and diverse collection of theoretical explanations for criminal behavior. All these perspectives aim to assist in understanding the social phenomenon of crime—a phenomenon that is itself open to interpretation and that runs the gamut from petty offenses to major infractions of the criminal law. At the very least, we should recognize that explanations for criminal behavior rest on shaky ground insofar as the subject matter they seek to interpret contains many different forms of behavior, each of which is subject to personal, political, and definitional vagaries.